One of the more worrisome aspects of sequestration has been the lack of transparency in how these massive, across the board cuts will impact projects and programs throughout government. With the recent release of the Office of Management and Budget report, compiled in response to the Sequestration Transparency Act, some of the aggregate impact is more evident. On the program and project level, however, the impact is still far from certain.
Deniece Peterson of Deltek Inc., an expert in research and analysis of government spending, has broken down some of the details provided in the OMB report in a recent article. Speaking with Chris Dorobek of the DorobekINSIDER, Peterson spoke to some of the remaining information gaps, as well as the persisting concerns regarding sequestration.
As Peterson told Dorobek, the report “gives you some indication in terms of scope, but it doesn’t really give contractors a clear sense of how that’s going to trickle down to impact them. It’s good to have more data, but it’s really not at the point where people can start making decisions around it.” This is not just true of contractors – program and project managers are also uncertain of the effect large cuts could have on their work.
Adding to the uncertainty, Peterson also mentions in her analysis that these cuts are coming in the middle of the Fiscal Year, and coming during yet another Continuing Resolution. The implications for implementation are far from obvious. While she mentions that OMB most likely has additional information regarding implementation if sequestration goes into effect, they currently are not sharing those details.
The impact of the cuts will be far reaching; Peterson mentioned that many Federal programs that states carry out are also on the table for cuts. While State Medicare Grants are off the table, the HHS Child Care and Development Block Grant, DOT Capital Investment Grants, and many others are all sequestrable. With the large focus on Defense Department cuts, not much attention has been given to cuts in state and local budgets.
Peterson points out that a large part of the concern is the aggressive nature of the deadlines and speed for implementation, if sequestration goes into effect. She told Dorobek that, while it is clear that Federal debt reduction is important, “If agencies don’t have time to really figure out how to do this well […] in a way that’s not going to cause other problems down the road, that’s the biggest risk.” Hopefully, government will not have to learn the meaning of the old adage, ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’, the hard way.